I am not a sporty person – clearly if you know me in real life you will know this to be true. Tubby is a word one could associate with me quite easily (no cheeky comments required).
None of this has put me off the Olympics – I really find it is the ‘greatest show on earth’ and it’s enthralled us all as a family every day and every night. And we are so lucky to have tickets for both rowing and athletics so we will be enjoying it up close and personal for two days. From @Swindon to @EtonDorney & @London2012.
But one thing which has really changed for me this time is the importance of Twitter during this event. Almost every day an athlete mentions how many extra followers they’ve got, what someone has been saying – and the one over-riding theme is that this ability to connect really matters to them.
Of course, there’s the immediate buzz of spectators and support on home turf – but it’s the more remote connections through social media which are really coming through. This is especially true in the swimming, where many competitors are so much younger. Surely this is sign of things to come.
There are risks as well in being so open – our wonderful diver Tom Daley found this out when some vindictive person started saying horrible things. But even though that happened that simply caused a huge ‘upsurge’ in even more support for him. And the culprit appears to have been arrested, so maybe next time he’ll think twice.
And Tom Daley handled it brilliantly – he did what many celebrities do in those circumstances – he let everyone see the tweet/tweets. And the result proved that confronting anything that’s vile by being dignified & professional – almost always leads the perpetrator into hot water.
So anyone who uses Twitter to be unkind, or plain nasty, be aware – social media is quite capable of policing itself. With very real consequences.
Another thing which this has demonstrated is how lonely many athletes must be most of the time as they perfect their art. They work away 365 days of the year, some completely alone, and most of us only see their flashes of brilliance. It’s a journey of endurance, hard work, little recognition most of the time. But the Olympics has provided a chance for these athletes to connect with the public and for us to connect with them.
I have felt it important to be supportive – I don’t expect replies but that’s not the point. It’s about appreciating their efforts whether or not they get a medal or even get to a final. How many of us can even say we’re Olympians? Or that we are in the top 30 in the world at anything?
This is a time when being British, supporting @TeamGB, @London2012, @TomDaley1994, @BeckyAdlington, @stephaniehoughton2 and all the other runners, riders, cyclists and everyone else has come easily and naturally.